Sat | May 30, 2020

Telehealth thrives during COVID-19 pandemic

Published:Friday | May 22, 2020 | 12:10 AM
Bowen
Bowen

THOUSANDS OF Jamaicans have turned to telehealth services as they adhere to social-distancing rules during the coronavirus pandemic. Telehealth is the use of telecommunications technologies to deliver health-related services and information that support patient care, administrative activities and health education.

MDLink is a secure, online telehealth platform which incorporates text, audio and video to allow patients to connect with locally registered doctors. Doctors registered on the system include general practitioners/family doctors, gynaecologists, dentists, psychiatrists and allergists. Patients can see a doctor for minor medical conditions, prescription refills, chronic illnesses and medical screenings. The platform allows 300 to 500 patients to be managed and assessed daily.

Dr Che Bowen, chief executive officer and founder of MDLink, has seen a major uptick in the number of patients and doctors registered to utilise his company’s telehealth platform.

“We’ve seen a drastic increase in registration among patients and doctors during the coronavirus pandemic. Today, we have over 10,000 patients registered and 200 doctors providing much-needed medical advice – 85 per cent of which joined in the past three weeks,” shared Dr Bowen.

With telecommunications being a major element of MDLink’s business model, the telehealth company partnered with C & W Business Jamaica in 2019 for connectivity services.

“We have been deliberate in forging our partnership with MDLink because it is a great example of technology transforming the lives of Jamaicans,” stated Delroy McLean, senior director, C & W Business Jamaica.

ZERO-RATED COST

He continued: “Effective May 1, we zero-rated the cost for FLOW customers with or without a data plan to use the MDLink mobile app for remote medical support. Customers will require data to download the app from the App Store or Google Play Store, but data will not be required to use the app thereafter on the FLOW network. We are happy to, through our technology, allow thousands of people to access medical care, while reducing the burden on brick-and-mortar medical facilities. As a company committed to supporting businesses at all stages of their growth cycle, it also brings us joy to see Dr Bowen’s vision become a reality.”

The idea to start the telehealth company came to Bowen while working at the Kingston Public Hospital in 2015. “Each month, I had an elderly patient who undertook the long journey from St Thomas to the hospital to obtain the same prescription. I did some research and learnt about telehealth and its successful application in Europe and North America. I also realised that there wasn’t an official telehealth platform in Jamaica. I jumped at the opportunity, and MDLink was born,” reminisced Dr Bowen.

Over 70 per cent of MDLink patients utilise its mobile app for medical attention, while 25 per cent use a desktop, and one per cent use a tablet. “In short, our patients rely on technology to utilise our services. Therefore, our partnership with C&W Business Jamaica has been essential to ensuring that we have an always-connected, robust platform on which to provide stellar services,” shared Dr Bowen.

D Bowen was quick to add that patient reviews have been extremely positive. “We have received feedback from patients raving about the ease of using the MDLink platform and the ability to get sound medical advice from a range of local doctors. This feedback allows us to know that Jamaicans are happy with our platform as we seek to further invest and introduce upgrades to meet the growing demand,” stated the telehealth innovator.

Since launching in 2017, MDLink has expanded to The Bahamas, Antigua, Barbados, St Lucia, and the British Virgin Islands.